Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks
by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez
Illustrated by Dan Santat
2016 Best in Rhyme Award Honor Book
Congratulations Corey and Rebecca!
See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016
More Than Rhyme: Using Poetic Techniques in Rhyming Picture Books
by Rebecca J. Gomez
There’s something special about a good rhyming picture book. When you read it, the words roll off your tongue in a rhythmic cascade, making it a real pleasure to read aloud. But there is more to a good rhyming picture book than its flawless meter and rhyme.
What makes a rhyming picture book more than a good story that rhymes is the way the author uses language. When an author uses poetic techniques beyond rhyme and meter in the text, it becomes less like a rhyming story and more like poetry.
Here are some ways that you can use poetic techniques to make your rhyming picture books truly shine.
Assonance, consonance, and alliteration. Using these in your writing is like sprinkling your manuscript with “ear candy.” When used well, these poetic techniques add fun and flavor to your text.
Internal rhymes. These can be delightful surprises, like the cream filling in cupcake!
Check out this example from TEENY TINY TOADY by Jill Esbaum for an example of alliteration and internal rhymes:
Brothers tumbled, bumble-jumble,
as they stumbled for the door.
“Don’t you worry, kid. We’ll save her!”
Off the seven toadies tore.
(TEENY TINY TOADY also has a lot of fun onomatopoeia.)
Onomatopoeia. These little words and phrases can show a lot with just one word! Consider the words pop, scritch, or bang. Each of them gives you an impression of something happening behind the sound, such as a balloon bursting, a fingernail scratching, or a door slamming shut.
Repetition. Using repetition in your writing can build tension, create emphasis, or encourage young readers to anticipate what is coming.
Simile and metaphor. Both of these devices will help you be concisely creative. A well-placed simile or metaphor can affect mood, describe a setting, or evoke an emotion. In the following example from HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, the metaphor is used for humor:
The fox said, “Surrender?
No way, chicken tender!”
Emotive language. This is what I think of as showing while telling. Using the right words to tell WHAT is happening can serve double duty by eliciting an emotional response. Word choice is key; think beyond the literal. Consider this line from WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?:
He spotted and jotted down
while marching around
doing careful inspections.
The phrase “marching around” shows Moose’s state of mind as he’s inspecting his friends’ work.
Imagery. Your words are meant to paint a picture. In a rhyming text, your goal should be to create an image in your readers’ minds using the fewest words possible. It’s often the surprising, clever combinations of simple words and phrases that evoke the most vivid pictures! Consider this stanza from BEAR SNORES ON by Karma Wilson:
An itty-bitty mouse
creep-crawls in the cave
from the fluff-cold snow.
Do you see the tiny mouse sneaking into the cave? Can you see the fluffly snow and feel the chill? All of this was accomplished with very few brilliantly used ordinary words (and a few other poetic techniques as well).
I encourage you to read a lot of rhyming picture books, and make note of the various poetic techniques employed in each. Are there any that work especially well for you? Any that seem overdone? Then put poetic techniques into practice in your own picture book manuscripts!
Rebecca J. Gomez is the coauthor, along with Corey Rosen Schwartz, of two rhyming picture books, WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys working in her art journals, hiking through the woods, and hanging out with her family. She lives in Nebraska with her husband, three kids, two poodles, and one parrotlet.
56 thoughts on “Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 12 ~ Rebecca J. Gomez ~ Poetic Techniques in Rhyming Picture Books”
great post! I love the techniques list. thank you!
I love the concept of “ear candy,” as it seems quite accurate! Oh how the sweet sounds of rhyme and rhythm can roll off the tongue and appeal to the ear, especially when combined with the other techniques mentioned. I’m a particular fan of alliteration. Thanks for this helpful post!
Using an economy of words to provide visualisation for the reader – that’s what it’s all about. Thank you for the post, Rebecca.
Really loved your comment of ‘ear candy.’ Hadn’t thought of poetic devises quite in thank way but that is so accurate. Thank you for the examples and explanation of those devices. Thanks for your post.
Great techniques, and I love all the examples you’ve provided. Thanks so much, Rebecca!
“When an author uses poetic techniques beyond rhyme and meter in the text, it becomes less like a rhyming story and more like poetry.” So true! Thanks for showing various techniques to accomplish this in our work.
Yes, I love reading a rhyming story that lets me “sing” it. That takes hard work to produce! Thanks for the tips to help me do that.
Great list of poetic techniques, Rebecca! Thanks so much!
Great post! That is a great idea of reading other books and spotting the techniques used in them. I will have to try that in order to help my own work. Thanks!
Poetic techniques helping you become “concisely creative.” Brilliant advice & such a helpful listing of techniques with examples. Thank you, Rebecca!
Very helpful post about poetic techniques. I love your reference to “ear candy” and how it can add to our rhyming PB’s. Thanks for the great tips, Rebecca!
Thanks Rebecca! You have provided such great examples for all of theses poetic techniques. It’s exciting to think of all the options!
A great list of techniques and examples. What an informative post! Thank you Rebecca.
Thanks for this great post, Rebecca. I’m a big fan of your books!
A lovely post, Rebecca! Thank you for your examples and as so many have stated, “ear candy” is a wonderful non-caloric way to add spice, flavor, and deliciousness to all our writing!
Great examples! Thank you!!
Thanks Rebecca! Loved the examples you shared!!!
Excellent examples of poetic techniques. Loved Hensel and Gretel, by the way. Great composition and story. 🙂
Thank you so much, Rebecca. I need to print up this list and tape it to my writing desk. I do sometimes get so caught up in the technical aspects of the rhyme and story that the poetic joy gets set aside.
Helpful list! Thank you!!
Thanks for the concise list of poetic techniques. I love your Ninja books. Some of my favorite Mentor Texts for…poetic techniques!
“The words roll off your tongue in a rhythmic cascade . . . .” This is a post to read and re-read. You’ve used such poetic language in your descriptions of poetic language!
REBECCA: In my comment for yesterday’s Rhyme Revolution post, I said that rhythm is everything in poetry. I stand corrected after reading your post today. THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom! I especially appreciate your thought that “when an author uses poetic techniques beyond rhyme and meter in the text, it becomes less like a rhyming story and more like poetry.” BRILLIANT! BEAUTIFUL! I CAN’T WAIT to try my hand at the techniques you have shared! THANK YOU!!!!
Thank you for the great examples for the beautifully expressive and rhythmic language found in great rhyming texts.
Thank you for this lyrical and informative post!
Excellent tips and examples–thanks!
Thank you for your review of poetic techniques, useful in poetry and prose.
Love all the great examples! Lots to think about!
Thanks Rebecca! Fantastic post with some great reminders on poetic tecnique!
I’m a beginner in this rhyming business and your post just makes me want to learn more and more! Thanks, Rebecca!
Thanks for the reminder that lyrical language is the whipped cream and cherry on top of the icing on the rhyming cake!
Great post, Rebecca! A perfect reminder of all that is available to us in our poetic toolbox! Thanks so much!
Thank you, Rebecca, for the tips and examples of using poetic techniques in our writing.
Great example! thank you so very much, Rebecca and Angie!
More great advice to take in when writing in rhyme. Thank you, Rebecca!
Thanks for the lesson and the great examples!
Hi, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing examples of wonderful writing. Your PBs are perfect mentor texts.
Your list of ear candy is making me hungry to create some of my own. Thanks for the useful post. I’m reprinting it and sticking in my rhyming MS journals!
Excellent advice! Thank you!
Thanks for your informative post. The examples you shared were wonderful. I’m looking forward to reading the complete picture books soon.
By the way, “Grandma” above is my alter ego.
Rebecca, thanks for the explanations. The examples makes them extra clear.
I have alot of work to do. Thanks for the info!
Thanks for the information, Rebecca! You’ve shared some great examples. I have so much fun incorporating these poetic techniques into my writings. 🙂
Thanks for the great reminders. And I smile every time I hear that stanza from Bear Snores On. What a Great book!
Thanks for the reminders of all of the tools we should be considering, as we draft pieces out of carefully-chosen words. We get precious few words in picture books, and in rhyme, they have to be laid ever-so-deliberately! Using these techniques will help us use just the right words in just the right ways! ❤
Great reminder on tools for righting up our writing.
Great post. There is so much to writing a really good picture book – every word counts!
Ooh, I’m printing this one off! Thank you! 🙂
I read What About Moose each year to my second grade classes. They really enjoy it. I better get Ninja Chicks. I thank you for the wonderful examples that you give for the techniques. Very helpful!